Lawsuit: School's Failure to Heed Heat Index Caused Girl's Death

Georgia teen Imani Bell collapsed, died after basketball drills in extreme heat
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2021 10:05 AM CST
Family Sues School Officials Over Teen's Heat Death
"Basketball was one of her loves," father Eric Bell says.   (Getty Images/chrupka)

"More than anything, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else's child," says Dorian Bell, whose 16-year-old daughter collapsed and died after an outdoor basketball practice in August 2019. Imani Bell's parents have filed a lawsuit against school officials in Jonesboro, Georgia, over her death, which happened after she collapsed during the first outdoor practice of the school year, the New York Times reports. According to the lawsuit, Imani lost consciousness while running up stadium steps as directed in "extreme heat." The lawsuit states that a state autopsy found the cause of death was "heatstroke caused by strenuous physical exertion in extreme temperatures."

The heat index that day rose to 106 degrees, meaning the school was in apparent violation of district policy that calls for outdoor exercise to be halted when the index hits 95, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The wrongful-death lawsuit names the principal, assistant principals, and members of the coaching staff at Elite Scholars Academy. It accuses the defendants of failing to provide water breaks and check students for signs of overheating. Eric Bell, Imani's father, is a basketball coach and says he doesn't understand why the drills were allowed to continue in the heat. "On behalf of the family, we are going to fight as hard as we can to get some form of justice for Imani," he says. (More Georgia stories.)

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